Are you setting realistic energy reduction targets for your business?

It can be hard to set the bar. You know you want to improve, but by how much and how quickly? The commercial building sector has been struggling with target setting for many years as organisations fall between unrealistic ones. How do you find a balance?

We recently conducted research into Energy Efficiency in commercial buildings and found that 46% of energy managers describe their targets as hard to meet whilst a further 17% of energy manager respondents declared that they have no official energy target.

Among organisations with a larger energy usage (+£2 million annual expenditure) 63% of respondents told us their targets are hard to meet. This suggests that larger energy users are taking energy more seriously and are setting robust targets. We also asked our panel of energy managers whether they were on track to meet their energy targets. 78% are on track with only 7% currently behind. Whilst this is good news, it does raise the issue of whether the initial targets were sufficiently challenging and impactful.

When broken down by sector, the private sector fared worse. Half of commercial building respondents had no energy targets, but rate sustainability as very important. It is a similar story with retail. What’s more, 35% of leisure and hospitality respondents did not know their energy spend, despite the fact that typically energy usage eats up 6-10% of a property’s revenues and 60% of hotel’s electricity costs come from heating (figures from The Carbon Trust).

It is also the case that without targets it is almost impossible to measure success. Our suspicion is that a great many companies cannot measure the success of their carbon reduction programmes for example, because no targets were set at the start, nor the success of the measures tracked and benchmarked.

So what steps can you take to ensure your targets are not only realistic but suitable for sustainability and carbon reduction targets?

Consider a quantitative approach to carbon savings

  • Measure what a ‘usual scenario’ looks like in your business, which reduced consumption can then be compared to. You can also use this monitoring and insight to benchmark with other organisations in your sector in the UK and internationally.

  • Do a financial reality check: How much it will save over the years and what investment is needed to get there?

Find your carbon story

  • What does your business stand for? Find the link with your company's vision (zero carbon, greenest retailer, premium product, low economical footprint, cares for the planet). From here you can prioritise your targets, and ask yourself how carbon fits your other business targets?

Estimate your impact and plan for the future

  • Use appropriate technical science-based approach to monitor progress, such as the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP) to ensure you are monitoring

  • Be ahead of regulation (future ready) Aim for the highest sustainability certification by adopting frameworks such as ISO 50001. This establishes the structure and discipline to implement technical and management strategies that significantly cut energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.)

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